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Standard Paper Sizes

July 06, 2024

Understanding the various standard printing sizes is essential for anyone involved in printing projects, whether for personal use or professional purposes. This guide will explain the differences between North American and International (ISO 216) paper sizes, helping you choose the right paper for your needs.

North American Paper Sizes

North American paper sizes are measured in inches and are widely used in the United States, Canada, and a few other countries. The most common sizes include Letter, Legal, and Tabloid.

Letter Size (8.5 x 11 inches)

The Letter size is the standard for everyday printing and documents. It is slightly smaller than the traditional A4 size used internationally. This size is ideal for personal and professional documents, reports, and correspondence.

Legal Size (8.5 x 14 inches)

The Legal size paper is primarily used for contracts and legal documents. Its length provides extra space for detailed information, making it a preferred choice for legal professionals.

Tabloid Size (11 x 17 inches)

The Tabloid size, often referred to as Ledger size when used in landscape orientation, is commonly used for small newspapers and various print media. It is less common than Letter and Legal sizes but is essential for certain types of presentations and large-format prints.

International Paper Sizes (ISO 216)

ISO 216 is the global standard for paper sizes, recognized worldwide except in North America. The most common series in this system is the A series, ranging from A7 to A0.

A4 Size (210mm x 297mm)

A4 is the most prevalent document format internationally, used for general print-outs, note-keeping, and standard documents. It is slightly narrower and a bit longer than the North American Letter size.

A3 Size (297mm x 420mm)

A3 size paper is typically used for presentations, larger posters, and visual displays. It is usually displayed horizontally and provides more space than A4, making it suitable for larger graphics and text.

A1 Size (594mm x 841mm)

A1 is one of the largest standard ISO paper sizes, often used for larger displays, signage, and technical drawings. Its substantial size makes it ideal for detailed visual presentations and blueprints.

Choosing the Right Paper Size

Selecting the appropriate paper size depends on your project's specific requirements. Letter size is the most convenient for everyday use in North America. For legal documents, opt for Legal size. For larger print media, such as posters and newspapers, Tabloid size is the best choice.

Internationally, A4 is the go-to standard for most documents. A3 and A1 sizes offer the necessary space and versatility for presentations and larger displays.


Understanding standard printing sizes is crucial for ensuring your documents are correctly formatted and professionally presented. Whether you are working with North American or International paper sizes, choosing the right size will help you achieve the best results for your printing projects.

For more information and to stay updated on the latest printing trends, visit Formax Printing.